As the summer movie season draws to a close, one film stands pretty tall above the rest. Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ is a critical favorite and (despite some early studio hand-wringing) a massive box office hit. There’s even Oscar buzz about it already. But not everyone has been so in love with the movie. I’m curious where our readers fall on the scale. Is ‘Inception’ brilliant or overrated? Vote after the break.
We know how our Drew Taylor feels about this. I don’t cover the theatrical beat myself and was a little late in getting around to seeing the movie until a few weeks into its run. Personally, on the first (and so far only) viewing, I liked the movie but didn’t love it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I pretty much hated most of the first half, which seems to be nothing but exposition, exposition, exposition, and then – just to be sure you didn’t miss anything – even more exposition. If the first rule of cinema is “Show, don’t tell,” ‘Inception’ plays more like “Tell tell tell tell tell tell tell tell tell tell tell tell tell… then show.” The Ellen Page character is a painfully transparent audience surrogate. Her role serves no purpose except to stand there so that other characters can explain to her (and thus to us in the audience) every single thing that happens.
I was also bothered by the fact that the way Nolan depicts dreams in the movie bears no resemblance whatsoever to real dreams. This year’s earlier ‘Shutter Island‘ (also starring Leonardo DiCaprio) does a much better job of replicating dream logic, in my opinion.
With that said, once the second half of the movie rolls around, Nolan finally lets ‘Inception’ break loose. All that painful exposition finishes serving its purpose. The climax of the film, which deftly juggles multiple layers of narrative, is really a pretty stunning achievement.
So, overall, I thought that ‘Inception’ is a pretty good movie, but also kind of overrated. I look forward to revisiting it on Blu-ray to see how much (if at all) that opinion changes with a second viewing.
Where do you stand?